To be here in Mitilini is to see the power of people working towards a common goal – helping their fellow humans gain a foothold in a new land. There are over a thousand people here helping in any way they can, from pulling people out of the ocean, to offering blankets, to teaching them English and Greek and other subjects; finding them nourishing food, giving their time and money to make a difference. In the absence of aid from governments and large agencies, individuals are filling the void. It is amazing. The other day I heard of a yoga class for volunteers. They ask for a donation of 5 euros in order to pay for refugee bus tickets to take yoga. This is how people think here. What can we do to help the newcomers, and not to make profit for ourselves.
Some of the ngos operating here are:
Better Days Greece
This is the group that we REAL volunteers work with most. It comprises three projects:
GEKKO School, providing classes in Math, English, Greek, and Computers as well as other workshops for the teenage unaccompanied minors.
Athletics for boys and girls
Environment and Ecology: this project is actively looking for an environmental science – ecology teacher volunteer.
One Happy Family – OHF
This amazing place provides a way for people from the camps to get away for the day. It provides food and drinks, a large blacktop for sports, a work out area, a playground, a toddler room, a library, a women’s room, a large garden, and a school for the kids run by School for Peace, which is a collaboration of Israelis and Palestinians. It is built from love and shipping pallets. We started a knitting workshop there today, providing yarn and needles and lessons which we brought here in our luggage, and about eight women joined us to practice knitting. Lois, another REAL volunteer who arrived yesterday, will visit every day for the three weeks she’s here. My sister Sally and I will also help.
As we were leaving One Happy Family, they were serving everyone a hot meal. There must have been 250 men lined up patiently to receive a plate of rice and chicken. Women and children got theirs first. I love this place.
More about other ngos next time.